The next time you walk in to your local gym, you’ll likely see plenty of people lifting weights, running on the treadmill and shooting hoops, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone huddled in the corner straining over a brain teaser.
For most people, the brain doesn’t seem like a muscle that needs exercising in the conventional sense of the term, but with the growing awareness about Alzheimer’s, dementia and other memory-related issues, improving one’s long-term memory health is of paramount importance.
Improving memory health is a long-term proposition that can be done gradually. Here are a few simple steps you can take to improve your memory health.
Exercise your brain — Staying mentally active is one of the most important keys to improving memory health. “Brain training” exercises such as crossword puzzles and playing chess are classic ways of keeping mentally active and entertained at the same time. If mental puzzles aren’t for you, there are plenty of other ways to stay mentally active. Socializing, reading, playing cards are all fun and easy ways to keep your brain cells busy. It’s also never too late to learn a new skill or hobby, so take advantage of Internet learning resources, local libraries and local universities and enrich your brain with a new skill.
Rest your brain — As important as exercising your brain is, giving your brain the occasional break is also just as important. Sleep is the most obvious way to rest your brain, and its also one of the most effective. The importance of a full night’s sleep can never be underestimated, as it gives your brain the chance to recover from a day’s worth of activity. Be sure to minimize any other conditions that may affect your sleep patterns. During the day, take steps to reduce stress and anxiety — both of which can negatively affect brain health. Getting the proper amount of sleep and minimizing stress can both free up your brainpower to concentrate on more useful tasks.
Feed your brain — Like most other health-related issues, diet is an important factor in improving your mental health. Fruits and vegetables are staples of any healthy diet, and the antioxidants they posses can help retain memory health. In addition to fruits and vegetables, it is imperative to seek foods that are high in Omega-3, a nutrient that has been found to increase memory health. Omega-3 can be found in cold water fish such as salmon, trout and tuna, and also in walnuts, pinto beans, spinach and broccoli.